Maternal Health Initiative

Improving healthcare for all women

UMW Interfaith Maternal Health Forum

The Interfaith Summit on Maternal Health, presented by Circle Up: United Methodist Women for Moms and hosted virtually by FUMC Austin, informed and empowered attendees to use their voices of faith to advocate for Texas moms.

This two-hour program opened our eyes to the statistical impact of maternal mortality as well as the deeply personal human impact of pregnancy-related deaths or near deaths.The afternoon centered on a moderated discussion featuring a panel of experts that represented the multifaceted nature of the maternal health crisis and closed with a plan of action for people of faith to use their voice to amplify solutions and advocate for change.

Healthcare for women and children is at the heart of United Methodist Women’s mission today and has been since the organization was founded in the 1800’s. In 1869, Dr. Clara Swain was sent to Bareilly, India, to provide quality medical care to women. She has been called the “pioneer woman physician in India” as well as the “first fully-accredited woman physician ever sent out by any missionary society into any part of the non-Christian world.” Today, the United Methodist Women organization continues to support the health and family needs of women and children around the globe.

In Texas, maternal mortality and morbidity became front page news because of a 2016 report stating that based on 2012 data, Texas’ maternal death rate had grown astronomically high and was worse than some third-world countries. Subsequently, when researchers looked more closely at the numbers, they determined that due to data reporting errors, the maternal mortality rate was lower than they initially thought but they also identified that this complicated issue was still affecting many Texans.

What was also alarming was their findings indicating the racial disparities in maternal mortality and morbidity—black women, regardless of education level, socioeconomic status or any other qualifier, were 2.43 times more likely die during or as a result of pregnancy than their white counterparts. It was also determined that almost 80% of maternal deaths were from preventable causes and could’ve been avoided entirely.
Putting a stop to this kind of injustice is exactly what calls the United Methodist Women to action. Improving maternal health in Texas has been identified as a top initiative by the Capital District UMW and Circle Up of the First United Methodist Church of Austin. They have been actively coordinating with legislators and other advocacy groups to help support bi-partisan legislation that will benefit Texas moms.
For more information on the subject of maternal health, including presentations from the speakers from our recent Brunch & Learn About Maternal Health, check out our resources below.

The Circle Up: United Methodist Women for Moms website is full of resources about maternal mortality and the Texas legislature as well as information about this UMW Circle and what they’re doing to improve maternal health. The website will be updated regularly with content like events, updated information, and new articles.

UMW Maternal Health One Pager

Maternal Health Brunch and Learn (January 23, 2019)
Women’s Preventative Healthcare Presentation by Evelyn Delgado, President, Health Futures of Texas
Improving Maternal Health – Building Strong Families in Texas by Adriana Kohler, Senior Health Policy Associate, Texans Care for Children
Maternal Health Disparities by Dr. Michele A. Rountree, Associate Professor at The University of Texas at Austin